Articulating strategies to address heat resilience using spatial optimization and temporal analysis of utility assistance data of the Salvation Army Metro Phoenix

Zhao, Q. , Dickson, C., Thornton, J., Solís, P. and Wentz, E. A. (2020) Articulating strategies to address heat resilience using spatial optimization and temporal analysis of utility assistance data of the Salvation Army Metro Phoenix. Applied Geography, 122, 102241. (doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102241)

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Long-term community resilience, which privileges a long-view look at chronic, slow-moving issues affecting communities, has begun to draw more attention from researchers and policymakers. In the Valley of the Sun, resilience to heat is both a necessity and a way of life. Solutions are ubiquitous but nevertheless still in demand over the long, hot summers in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. Residents heavily rely on air conditioning (AC) for relief from heat stress, illness, and to prevent indoor heat-related deaths. However, paying for the electricity to keep homes cool can be expensive and the electric bills can be cost prohibitive for many low-income individuals and families. Local government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and charitable organizations have programs that provide financial assistance for qualified applicants offering limited relief from electricity costs. To better understand the utility assistance landscape in the Phoenix metropolitan area as a contributor to heat resilience among vulnerable communities, we created a collaborative team of individuals from the university and the Salvation Army, one of the more than 80 organizations that provides emergency economic aid for low-income families to pay high-cost electricity bills, to articulate insights about systemic efficiencies and efficacies, from a data-informed perspective. We utilized exploratory data analysis and advanced spatial analytical methods with the Salvation Army, to build a shared understanding of knowledge gaps and verified hunches. Our collaborative research confirms that minority groups (African American and Native American) disproportionately require assistance. Meanwhile, 30% of the travel time and distance to intake interviews could be saved by switching from zip code-based assignment systems to address-based assignment systems. Budgeting across empirically identified temporal patterns of need could offer resilience benefits to the most vulnerable. As a result of this community research partnership, data from the Salvation Army reveals the character and dimension of critical challenges within the utility assistance system as a whole, informs both immediate solutions and builds a knowledge base for transforming future operations for the organization, while it shapes broader conversations across the community of service providers about heat resilience in both spatial and temporal terms.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Zhao, Dr Qunshan
Creator Roles:
Zhao, Q.Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Zhao, Q., Dickson, C., Thornton, J., Solís, P., and Wentz, E. A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Applied Geography
ISSN (Online):1873-7730
Published Online:14 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Applied Geography 122: 102241
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190698Urban Big Data Research CentreNick BaileyEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L011921/1S&PS - Urban Big Data
304042UBDC Centre TransitionNick BaileyEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/S007105/1S&PS - Administration